Friday, April 18, 2008

Friday April 18, 10:09 p.m.

As expected, Jolly called in to dotakyan. The fact that I didn't hear a major rumble of steps rushing up the stairs at 10 p.m. spoke volumes. However, Miss Disney and The Ace came by. Disney is doing pretty well...coming along smoothly. The Ace told me that his pet dog of 15 years passed on last Sunday; he took the news pretty well. We also got into the topic of whether plants had feelings or not (this wasn't off the top of my head but from one of the questions in the text). I reminisced about my 6th-grade teacher back in the 70s when he had all of us impressionable kids commune with our philodendrons for 20 minutes every Friday afternoon. Yeah, good timing, guy....have us try out telepathy on plants right after lunch. A lot of us ended up taking naps. The 70s were a pretty freaky time. But back to The Ace...he won't be here next Friday since he and his girlfriend will be off traveling in Australia next week. Lucky ol' man....the boss "warned" him not to return with an accent.

I finally got word from The Operator. As hoped for, she was able to buy some silverware for The Flautist for all of us, so all we have to do is to contribute to the price. Saves me a headache although my wallet will be lighter than usual this weekend.

Anyways, I've burned out my voice once more. I think this cough is gonna be with me for a while longer.
Friday April 18, 6:08 p.m.

Rather typhoon-like this morning although the nearest typhoon is all the way down past Hong Kong at the moment. Things were blowing so hard that I was afraid my laundry poles, including the heavy stainless steel one, would lift off. Well, 12 hours later, it's calmer although it's still spitting out there.

Last night, BC and I tried out that new cafe just across from the station. It's a moody one, as they would say in Japlish; back home, it would be called a place with atmosphere. Dim lighting, subdued colour scheme and soft music. Not exactly conducive to having a proper English lesson but we did have a good dinner there. The menu was an Indian fusion of sorts. Curry was the headliner but BC ordered the pasta in kima curry sauce...kinda like the usual meat sauce but creamier. I had the saag chicken which was mild and creamy spinach curry with bits of chicken.
Despite the atmosphere, BC and I managed to pull off a lesson but it's not a place that we can go to every time since BC usually follows The Carolinan, and she's definitely planted at the Ichigaya Starbucks. Plus, since it is more of a sit-down restaurant than it is a cafe, I don't think I could really bring anyone like The Full-Timer there. I certainly don't wanna be asking her to pay 1,200 yen for dinner and my salary. However, I think if BC is the only one on the schedule, then it's viable.
Then, her friend and my new student, The Temp, showed up. I dutifully chatted her up while I checked her strengths and weaknesses. For a woman who's only traveled abroad for vacation and gone only to the other English schools for her language skills, she was quite smooth in her delivery. But she was also stuttery and uncertain at points; so basically, she just needs plenty of opportunity to speak out. Luckily, she'll also be a floater since my nights are pretty much filled to the brim.

It's only the juku students tonight. And I've got a fairly full slate...Miss Disney, The Ace and then Jolly...maybe. So, most of the day I was at home commiserating with the cough that just won't leave. I did get a break, though, at the nearest drug store. They were selling off some of their surplus medicine, including cough medicine. The sign said that they were coming close to the end of their "best-by" date so that's why they were selling them at 50% off. Well, my box said it was good til October. The way my coughs like to hang around, I'm fairly confident that I will get rid of my pills long before the Fall.

I had dinner at the Pepper Lunch near my station. Pepper Lunch is a chain that specializes in hotplate-grilled steaks and hamburgers. I hadn't been there in a long time, so I decided to give that a go. There were two other folks in there. One of them was a ruddy-faced, rough-hewn type who bellowed at the lone greenhorn staffer that the miso soup hadn't come. I had their most famous plate of beef shavings mixed in with rice, garlic, corn and green onions. Fit the bill pretty nicely, although the students may be wondering where that fried smell is coming from.

Tomorrow will be my first lesson with Tully and The Coffeemaker in about a month. Hopefully, The Coffeemaker will show up since she couldn't make it last month due to a cold which I'm now suffering from. Then, it'll be down to Yurakucho for lunch with The Teahouse Ladies whom I haven't seen in a few years. The Flautist is now a newly-married woman, The Argentinian is well-experienced as a wife and mother, while The Operator is still single. But then again, The Operator kinda struck me as being a bit of the spinster type anyways. I'm also hoping that my cough will be suppressed enough by then.

I got word from Chip Guy after several months. The Entrepreneur had told me that he and his new wife had met CG and his family for dinner the other day. So I decided to drop the wunderkind a line. Looks like his two kids have been growing up rather quickly.

The juku boss just informed me that she wouldn't be around next Tuesday since she and her buddies will be catching the local performance of "Man of La Mancha". Considering how cooped up she is over here to her house, getting out for fun on a weeknight must truly be an impossible dream.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday April 17, 2:48 p.m.

Spinning my wheels here before BC's lesson in about 4 hours. I finished up with The Yogist almost an hour ago. She was her usual spritely self...I complimented her on her salesmanship with Mr. Mild the other day.

Just going through Wiki...found out that Barbara Feldon of "Get Smart" fame is 76 (!) years old. She's just a couple of years younger than Grandma 3?! Man, I'll always remember her as the doe-eyed and slinky 99.

The rains have started to come on down as the weather reports had threatened. Could possibly enter the cats n' dogs phase later tonight.
Thursday April 17, 11:41 a.m.

Just had Grandma far, the most proficient of the three ladies of similar age I've had in the past couple of days. She's a bit of a Renaissance lady, that one...studies English for her mind, goes to ballroom dancing for her body, and has her family for her spirit. And she even attended a few of the sessions at the Tokyo War Crimes Trials in her youth. Not surprisingly, we didn't delve too much into the text...she kinda muttered that she wasn't too interested in the nitty-gritty, so we allowed her to go into some of her regaling.

Had to pull another early wake-up to get over here. Since I wasn't going to risk a second McBreakfast in as many days, I ended up going down the street to local family restaurant Jonathans. Fewer people, more space and plenty of Muzak. Had the Scrambled Egg Brekkie with the usual runny eggs, one wiener, one strip of bacon, a side salad, a couple of hash browns and a thick slab of toast (the Japanese do toast right) with whipped butter and jam. I spent about 2 hours there, but there was no urging by the staff for me to vacate since the place was sparsely populated. And like me, there were a few business types conducting their trade at their tables.

The cold medicine has taken effect although the cough remains. I had to buy another roll of nodo-ame to take care of that problem. The Yogist should be coming by in about an hour; I'm sure she'll have lots to say about Mr. Mild. And then there will be several hours of downtime before I teach BC and her buddy.
Wednesday April 16, 9:37 p.m.

Well, despite the nagging phlegmy cough (I apologize for the description), I still managed to get through the night lessons in one piece, more or less. 001 was her usual bar buddy self...and she'll actually come here next week as well. The Diver kinda had me drawing on my extra reserves; she's an intrepid one but she gets so easily flustered. However, I'm done for the day...only to come back to teach Grandma 3 tomorrow morning before The Yogist's regular lesson. And then I have BC and then a possible new student in the form of BC's buddy. We'll be giving a new cafe a try. It's across the street from the smoke-ridden Doutor's. If it passes muster, I might even place The Full-Timer there.

Speaking of whom...I think I'll be outing her in a sense. As of yesterday, the Full-Timer has been working for the largest airline company in the world...that merger between Delta and Northwest finally came off. I'd been asking her about that. She always looked rather discomfited and stayed silent, so I gather that she was under house rules to stay mum.

Well, it'll be another breakfast outside. However, I think even for me, having two breakfasts in a row at The Golden Arches is asking for trouble, so I will probably hit the nearby Jonathan's instead. Little smoke and far larger table room.

I hear that Pope Benedict XVI will be heading to the White House today. Well, he's gotten the colour scheme perfect anyways.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wednesday April 16, 3:56 p.m.

As it turned out, Grandma 2 didn't wake up until after her originally scheduled lesson had gone by. Looks like the ol' girl was under the weather. I'm not exactly at 100% with my nagging cough. One of my friends assured me that the oft-searing pain in my throat is just the message that there is a battle going on between the virus and the body's defense system. As if I didn't know my biology...

The Nurse was pleasant as usual. Ended up going 20 minutes overtime and then BC started engaging her in gab as well. Right now, I've got these next couple of hours of down time whilst the bossman is out there shaking the trees for new clients. As far as I know, 001 is still scheduled to come in, and then The Diver.
Wednesday April 16, 11:41 a.m.

Already hitting the big 2,200th entry. Bring out the Veuve Cliquot!

And I'm still waiting for Grandma Two...who Speedy says is never late. Well, she's over 10 minutes late now. I hope there haven't been any major problems. As for Grandma One, well, we've managed to stumble our ways over to the end of the text. But it does prove one thing to me: always accept temporary assignments from other teachers warily.

I got replies from Shrek, TC and Smiley concerning a trip to Brozer's for those hamburgers on the 27th. far, only Shrek has replied positively. Smiley has got a rugby tournament on that Sunday, and TC isn't too positive about the timing. So, I'll be playing it by ear on that one. Maybe I'll bring out Skippy and even MB.

Now, still waiting for Grandma Two.
Wednesday April 16, 9:56 a.m.

Just about 15 minutes away from the beginning of a large Hump Day. I've got two grandmas to start off before The Nurse, 001 and The Diver. My voice still sounds somewhat scratchy, and I've been downing the Halls en masse.

Did forget to mention that Mr. Mild had finally taken the bait and decided to attend a yoga class on the 29th, thanks to The Yogist's gentle prodding. However, it won't be The Yogist herself who'll be handling Mr. Mild's inaugural trial lesson but an associate of hers. She did say that her friend was pretty...which is a pretty dangerous thing to say to a 60-year-old man.

I see that Pope Benedict XVI has arrived in the most religious country on the planet...i.e. the US of A. President Bush has even thrown convention to the wind and actually greeted the Pontiff at the airport. His Holiness also demonstrated his fluency in English during a small interview session on Shepherd-1.

Well, there was some trepidation in Fukuoka over the last several days about a possible serial killer preying on old women. One elderly woman was stabbed to death multiple times by the psycho. Luckily, he's been caught. Money was the reason for his spree, according to him. And like any other monster, he didn't have the coat covering his head in shame...just stared glass-eyed at the cameras.
Tuesday April 15, 9:14 p.m.

My voice is feeling somewhat like how millions of Americans and Canadians are also feeling right now...crappy. It is of course tax day over in North America. After shredding it last night during my last 3 lessons due to this cold, it's actually better tonight although I still sound like that tough-talking gyaru tarento, Yukina Kinoshita.

Tried the Salaryman's Cure for the cold last night by downing a couple of vitamin drinks after a particularly hot shower, and then hitting the futon wrapped in blankets. Didn't really do much for me this round, though.

My voice was the unfortunate conversation piece for all of my lessons today (as will probably be the case for the next few days). Considering that Mrs. Travel of The Beehive had gone to the trouble of making colour copies of Cuisine in Croatia, most of the talk was on the wonders of Kyoto.

Since 002 cancelled her class again, I had that hole in my schedule. But instead of spending it at the I-Cafe, I went home and cooked myself some stir-fry with the remaining rice from Sunday. Since I no longer have a working microwave, I tried to improvise by putting the rice cooker container full of rice in a hot water bath. All it did was overflow on the range and the rice ended up alternately mushy on the inside and crusty on the outside. Might work if it were a giant gyoza, but I now realize that the microwave oven is the preferred appliance rather than the convection oven.

As for the juku lessons, the boss was alarmed about the state of my voice to the extent that she actually checked me for a fever and then had me put in a thermometer under my armpit. I realize that we've known each other for nearly 4 years, but really.... Anyways, when the thermometer registered 35 degrees C, I kinda knew I was already a bit of a freak.

Mild Jr. returned today and it looks like he's settling into his new position quite well. But Jolly once again dotakyaned due to some wining n' dining he had to do with a client. The Milds were the latest recipients of my regaling about my success with homemade butter. Ironically, when I was at the supermarket, there was a new supply of butter on the shelves but how long that will last nobody really knows.

Well, the next two days will have me teaching the grandmothers early in the morning...not great for a fragile voice like mine. It'll be a long day.

The Teahouse Ladies contacted me about this Saturday. The Operator suggested a belated wedding present for The Flautist. Hmm....I'll have to check the size of my wallet. Anyways, it's set for someplace in Ginza. The Argentinian will also be there. I'm sure she'll have lots to talk about her 5 years in the homeland of Evita.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday April 14, 10:37 p.m.

Managed to get through the Monday gauntlet at the expense of nearly shredding my voice completely. By the time I finished up with Medicine Man, my larynx was barely emitting wheezes and whistles, let alone anything coherent. Luckily, my student is a fairly understanding sort, since he is a doctor and all.

Yup, I'll be getting a couple of bottles of Tough Man or Ripobitan D. The stuff tastes like Jack N' Jill Cough Syrup, so I'm not sure how really effective the vitamin drinks are, but if I'm gonna survive this week, I'll try anything.

Everyone from today is coming back for next week. And on top of that, The Tippler will be back. So that'll be a six-pack Monday.
Monday April 14, 7:15 p.m.

Well, ended up with a cold since yesterday. I've got that phlegmy, metallic feel in my throat which demands a heavy dose of Hall's. And of course, there is the alternately runny and stuffy nose. I've used up my Benza Block so I'll need to get another batch of meds tomorrow morning on the way to The Beehive. However, I may try The Salaryman's Cure of taking a shower, taking two hyper-powered vitamin drinks and then wrapping myself tightly in blankets to try to sweat the cold out. It worked once before.

On the healthier Saturday, I did have a chance to go to Akihabara once more a few hours before meeting up with Automan and Shrek there. I can understand The Anime King when he says that he can easily spend an entire day in Otakuville. I was just browsing around and I could easily wile away two hours. I did take a look inside Yodobashi Camera Akiba in some light research concerning my future microwave oven. I did find some intriguing models, including a convection oven. While it would be great to actually roast or bake something, I think ultimately it comes down to the need to warm up things such as bento, so I'm afraid I'll probably have to stick with the nuke unit.

The Maids were out there in force although there were no signs of the Caucasian variety that I'd seen a couple of weeks previously. Plenty of otaku there as well. The little walk around served me well...I actually found yet another Burger King branch. I hadn't been able to patronize one since the franchise came to these shores a year ago. I ended up having a Whopper Jr. set; there is something to be said about flame-broiled burgers. That huge new mall was still not open. I'd thought that it would be but actually it's supposed to be opening up this Wednesday. I should be expecting huge lineups. No Krispy Kreme there but there will be a Baskin-Robbins.

But finally I met up with my old friends from the old country at JR Akihabara. Automan brought his new girlfriend and Shrek brought his family. Plus, there was a new friend from the University of Toronto...really smiley fellow. He'd actually gone to that shindig at the Canadian Embassy last Wednesday with the former Premier of Ontario, David Peterson. All of us ended up going to the Mansei Building, one of the few venerable buildings that actually served food (at least, until the current evolution of Akihabara) in the area. Mansei is the chain that specializes in all things beef, whether it be as Korean as yakiniku or the Japan-Western fusion of hambaagu. We went up to the 4th non-smoking floor (we did have kid with us) which has the iron plate specials. It'd been a good long while since I had anything purely beef, so I was quite happy to have a mess of fried beef and rice. Dem's good eatin'.

Shrek reminded me about our talk during the Holidays about Brozer's, the hamburger joint in Ningyocho...just where he works. So I said I would try to set something up with him, TC (who couldn't make it out that night) and Smiley. As it turned out, the latest issue of TOKYO METROPOLIS had the annual pullout section on the best burger joints in the Big Sushi. Apparently, there's a guy who has his own blog about all of the burger places he's visited. I've dutifully informed the guys about it, and even MB and Skippy for future reference. From looking at the various hamburger shops out there, it looks like they are here to stay and in very big forms.

Yesterday was a quiet day, the first full day without any classes in a couple of weeks. To address The Great Butter Shock of '08, I decided to produce my own butter. Picked up the tiny carton of 200 mL heavy cream and used the remaining 3.6% milk and just threw them into the blender and just whacked away. Within 5 minutes, as the recipe had predicted, the mixture just globbed down to this proto-butter. Then, I drained the buttermilk out of it and continued to further mash it up with a potato masher until it was pretty solid. I added a bit of salt to it; it still tasted pretty light compared to the regular stuff, but I can say that I now have a supply of butter.

Today was back to a full day Monday. I actually ended up waking up at the early hour of 3 a.m. much to my surprise. A head cold can do that to me. I had my breakfast pretty darn early and just watched through all those Pet Shop Boys videos on the DVD. I caught up on some sleep on the subway. I had The Class Act for the first time in a couple of weeks. They were rather surprised on hearing about The Great Butter Shock; I guess they don't do all that much with the stuff. As for SIL, we talked about the death penalty before going into an article on the Samurai Detective from LA, Jimmy Sakoda, the fellow who's been doggedly going after Kazuyoshi Miura, the eccentric who was accused of murdering his wife for the insurance money all the way back in 1981. SIL and I thought that Sakoda had that look of Lt. Gerard, the intrepid cop after Richard Kimble in "The Fugitive".

Ended up cooling my heels at China Quick for half an hour over a hoi koro don and half a ramen bowl since there was no one at Speedy's. Apparently, the daytime person couldn't make it in and Speedy had an outside appointment. No problems, though. I could see The Full-Timer for the first time in 3 weeks. And in about 45 minutes, I'll have The Manhattanite and then Medicine Man to wrap up. Hopefully, my voice won't give out. 002 has had to cancel her class for tomorrow due to her continuing ravages with her own little cold. So once again, it's another Lopsided Donut Day.

From last Wednesday's Pimple Day since I only taught The Diver then, I've got a Mega-Hump Day this Wednesday. I have to sub for the bossman here at Speedy's and teach the grandmothers, The Nurse, 001 and The Diver. It's quite a switch from the relative quiet of last week. Just hope that I survive it.